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YH 573

A Diary
of the
Autumn Herring Fishing Season

Edited by Peter Allard and Paul P. Davies

Great Yarmouth Local History and

Archaeological Society

Monograph Four

Copyright © Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society



Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society


Previous Monographs Published by the Society

Monograph One: Excerpt from the Sailor’s Home Logbook 1861 to 1864

Monograph Two: Record of the Surviving and Legible Memorial Slabs

in St. Nicholas’ Church, Great Yarmouth at the Commencement of the
Restoration Work: 2nd June 1957

Monograph Three: Little Yarmouth by Margaret Gooch

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in

or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any
means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise)
without prior written permission of the publisher.

Every endeavour has been made to trace any copyright that exists on the
material in the book, but often the owner of the copyright is unknown.
If the society has contravened copyright, please accept our apologies and the
publisher will be happy to include a full acknowledgement in
any future edition

RPD Litho Printers


The Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society

Committee….. 4

The Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society….. 5

Editor’s Note….. 6

Edward Albert Baker….. 7

Crew Members mention in the diary….. 12

Glossary of terms used….. 12

Homocea details….. 13

The Diary….. 15

Appendix I. The sinking of the Atalanta….. 49

Appendix II. The loss of the Boys’ Own….. 50

Appendix III. The loss of the Maggie May….. 52

Appendix IV. The original diary….. 56


The Great Yarmouth Local History

and Archaeological Society Committee 2012/13


Andrew Fakes


Paul P. Davies

Vice Chairman and Secretary

Margaret Gooch

Committee Members

Derek Leak
Carl Boult
Ann Dunning
Norman Fryer
Shirley Harris
Alan Hunt
Peter Jones
David McDermott
Michael Wadsworth
James Steward
John Smail
Patricia Wills-Jones

The Great Yarmouth Local History

and Archaeological Society

On 24th January 1888 a Great Yarmouth branch of the Norfolk and

Norwich Archaeological Society was formed. On 27th February 1953,
the Society became independent and its name was changed to the Great
Yarmouth and District Archaeological Society. At the Annual General
Meeting on 15th May 2009, it was decided to change the Society’s
name to the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society
in order to reflect members’ changing interests.

The aims of the society are: to encourage the study of history and
archaeology, especially in the Great Yarmouth District and to secure
the preservation and conservation of historic buildings and
monuments, within the Great Yarmouth District.

Its activities include lectures in the Northgate Room, Central Library,

Tolhouse Street, Great Yarmouth at 7.30pm on the third Friday of each
month, from January to May and from September to December. The
lectures are on local, national, historical and archaeological topics.

At least two excursions are organised each summer, including a coach

outing to a place of interest in East Anglia, and an evening visit to a
village or a site.

The Society’s journal is a compilation of articles, written mostly by

local people, on local historical and archaeological topics, which is
published each autumn.

The Society produces a quarterly newsletter, giving news of latest

events, which is sent out to members, by email or by post.

The Society also erects blue plaques around the district to

commemorate buildings, people and events of local interest.

Editor’s Note

The Publication Committee of the Great Yarmouth Local History and

Archaeological Committee have decided to print and publish a series
of monographs (with the owners’ permission) of small, interesting and
historic documents, which are usually in private hands and are worthy
of greater circulation. It is felt that this is a valuable service that the
society can offer to disseminate more knowledge of the history,
especially that which is obscure and not readily available, of Great

The small booklet containing the diary was found by Malcolm Ferrow,
who allowed the society to copy it. It had been in the possession of his
brother, David Ferrow, who had treasured it for many years. The diary
is written in pencil, which has faded over the years. Half of the pages
have a mauve background. The author’s name is partly illegible and
he refers to himself in the text as the editor. It appears that his
surname was Gayton or Guyton and he describes himself as an author
and a journalist. It has not been possible to find any information
about him. For example, he does not appear on any census returns.

The diary covers the Autumn herring fishing season of 1908 and notes
three separate fishing boat disasters. The writing is clear and the
spelling is correct. This was a surprise because one believed that
fishermen had very little education. The editors of this book have
included pictures, which are contemporary with the period, and added
an appendix. Also included are the details of Homocea and its owner.

I am grateful for the help given by the staff at the Great Yarmouth
Library, Malcolm Ferrow, Parry Watson, David Higgins, Christopher
Unsworth and the Great Yarmouth Museum Service. Also Some
Particulars of Yarmouth Fishing Vessels by Stephen Brewster Daniels
has been helpful in supply details of the boats.

Paul P. Davies.
September 2012.

Edward Albert Baker (1874-1945)

The owner of Homocea YH 573

Edward Albert Baker, owner of the Homecea, lived in Queen’s Road,

Great Yarmouth and was the second son of George Baker, a steam tug
and smack owner. Edward Baker was born in 1874, his older brother
Henry, was born two years earlier. His father was one of the pioneers
of towage in the harbour from 1880 onwards and his tugs included the
well known paddlers Gleaner, Tom Perry and Cruiser. Eventually,
George sold all his company shares in 1899 and the firm, two years
later, became Nicholson’s Towage Limited. In the 1891 census,
Edward is listed as a draper’s apprentice, although by 1899 he had
taken over one of his father’s fishing smacks, the Velox YH 927. This
period saw the introduction of steam propulsion into the fishing
smacks and in 1900, Edward saw these advantages and ordered
Homecea from Chambers and Colby of Lowestoft. Another followed
in 1902; this was the Fortunatus YH 707. He also converted the Velox
into a steam driven smack the same year. Other steam drifters
followed, including a second Homecea YH 214 in 1919. Edward was
a very successful drifter owner for many years. Edward married in
1900 and had two sons, his first in 1902 was George Albert, and the
second son was Edward Kenneth, born in 1908. One of his steam
drifters was named after his first son, the George Albert YH 627. This
drifter eventually came in into George’s ownership in 1929.

However, by the 1930’s, the fishing was in decline and many firms
were struggling to make ends meet. In 1938, Edward was forced by
the mortgagees into selling his fleet of steam drifters. His fleet was
auctioned in August 1938 and fetched exceptionally low prices, which
reflected the state of the industry at the time. His steam drifters, Nelli
Secundus YH 610, Cheerio Lads YH 579 and Ma Freen YH 927 made
only £150 at the sale. The George Albert YH 627 was also sold during
this period. Edward later moved to Gorleston and continued to take a
great interest in the fishing. He died at his home in Victoria Road in
November 1945 aged 72 years and is buried in Gorleston Cemetery.

Peter Allard.

lasts and at
Lowestoft a decrease of 3,947 lasts. This was due to the fact that the
herrings left the North Sea grounds so much earlier during 1908 and so
diminished the catches landed.

I quote the following note from Answers to Correspondents in the

Fish Trades' Gazette, and although it does not really deal with the
herring fishery on the East Coast of England, it may be of interest to

naturalists, as showing the enormous quantity of herrings caught and

delivered. For the eight months ending 31st August 1908, the total
catch of herrings landed in Scotland was 1,482,508 crans or 249,439
tons and the estimated value was £1,041,570.

The total weight of all kinds of fish landed in Scotland during the
same period was 361,621 tons at the estimated value of £1,963,667.
You will observe that the herring catch, both in weight and cash
value, is far ahead of all other fish combined.

I am again indebted to Mr. W. L. Smith, the Borough Accountant of

Yarmouth and Mr. H. J. Henderson, the Harbour Master of
Lowestoft, for their courtesy In furnishing me with the following
figures :

Returns of the herrings landed in Yarmouth in 1908

Month Lasts Month Lasts

January - Carried forward 129
February - July 52
March - August 511
April 18 September 2,018
May 8 October 18,233
June 103 November 21,024
Carried forward 129 December 2,579

Total 44,546 lasts

Number of Yarmouth boats employed; about 240
Number of Scotch and other boats employed; about 600

Returns of the herrings landed in Lowestoft in 1908

Month Lasts Month Lasts

January - Carried forward 663
February - July 48
March 20 August 26
April 550 September 252
May 40 October 15,476
June 53 November 16,701
Carried forward 663 December 2,084

Total 35,250 lasts

Number of Lowestoft boats employed; about 276

Number of Scotch and other boats employed; about 386

Postcard of Great Yarmouth Fish Wharf : Posted 1909


Crew Members mention in the diary

The Editor
Johnny Ewles

Glossary of terms used

Overdays: Herring caught the previous day and always iced

Stuff: Presumably refers to 'non-herring' in the nets like dogfish etc

Cran: Approximately 1,320 herrings, depending on size. Measurement

adopted in 1908

Last: Approximately 10 crans

Flat of nets: Nets laid out on the sea

Shimmer: A catch of herring

Shooting/Shot: Throwing out of the nets

Yonker: A young lad

Hawesman: A man under the mate on a steam drifter, so is effectively

the third in charge of the vessel

Spoilts: Ruined nets

Topping Lift: Used to hold a boom up when the sail is lowered


Homocea YH 573

Wooden Steam Drifter

Built by Chambers and Colby, Lowestoft in 1900, Yard Number 178

Length 76 feet 2 inches

Breadth 17 feet 7 inches

Depth 8 feet 0 inches

Gross tons 57.79

Registered tonnage 39.30

Engines: Compound, built by 1900 by Elliot and Garrood of Beccles

Boilers: 120 lbs. Built by Elliot and Garrood of Beccles

Speed of nine knots

Owner: Edward A. Baker of Great Yarmouth from 22nd August 1900.

His first venture into steam drifter ownership

Sold to Joseph Jacobs of Plymouth 7th March 1916

Whilst at Plymouth, she was employed as a pilot cutter

Sunk by gunfire from a German U-boat (UC65) in the English Channel

(8 miles N55W from Cayeux) on 1st March 1917. There were no
casualties. She had been hired by a French company.

Homocea : YH 573 (not dated) © Peter Allard Collection


Homocea YH 573

The Diary : The Autumn Herring Fishing 1908

Note: The following diary is rather late, it being the intention of the
editor not to keep one, but being requested to do so by the crew, I start
today being October 23rd.

Rigged out at Beeching’s Dock on 29th September.

23rd October:

Fine wind E by N. Work at 5am. Hauled 45 cran about six miles

outside the Knowl Light Vessel. Wind WSW when we shot. In
harbour 1.30pm.
Prices: 21 shillings and 6 pence per cran. Moor at Gorleston for the

24th October:

Nice breeze and rain. Wind East.

8.00am: Boat arrives in light. Fished. The boys make a gloomy
forecast about the weather. Bilges smell horrible.
11.15am: Passed ½ flat of nets. Arrive off E by S 14 miles.
12.15am: Passed a Scot’s boat hauling a good shimmer.
1pm: Shot. Jumbo worried about the dinner, but it turned out alright.
100 herrings at midnight.

25th October:

Weather: Nice breeze from NE by E.

6.00am: At Work. Herrings swimming.
11am: Bound in: 70 crans.
1.30pm: In harbour. Salted on the market. A bottle of whisky to wet
the trip. No trouble to shift. A dirty night.
Home by 7pm. All serene.

26th October:

Smart breeze from E by N. Down to the boat early. The boys late.
Skipper crusty.
10.30am: Off to sea. Plenty of traffic in the river.
12 noon: Finer.
1.30pm: Start to shoot. 2h. 15m. from Corton Light Vessel. ESE. Not
many herrings. When the watch looked on, old skipper; crusty.
11.30pm: The editor also.

27th October:

Nice breeze from SE.

6.00am: Work. No luck.
7am: Herrings swimming. Nets lay well under the wind.
8am: Easy ahead to keep clear of a Scot’s boat’s gear.
10.15am: Hauled. Steam E by S. 12 crans.
11.15am: Shoot nets. Water looks better. Salted the herring.
2.00pm: Turned finer.
2.30pm: Easy ahead. Some nets have set to us. Old Billy is afraid his
tobacco will go wrong.
4.00pm: Doodles goes back to his old quarters.
4.30pm: At work. Our nets have set to another fleet. More agony and
sweat. Hauled nearly ½ fleet and get clear. Doodles prays about the
ejector in the fish hold.
5.30pm: 10 crans in the nets we hauled. Rain fast. Jumbo worried. A
messil up night.
9.30pm: Four times we have hoved in the nets. Lightning sharp. Left
off raining.
12 midnight: A Scot’s boat foul of us, but get clear after a little

28th October:

Nice breeze. Wind has gone to S by W.

1.30am: hauled and jogging in.
2.00am: Finer. 40 crans. In harbour.

Crew of Grace YH 67. Built in 1884. An early steam drifter showing the
crew and the clothes they wore © Peter Allard Collection

Herring season, Great Yarmouth. Drifters unloading their catch

© Peter Jones Collection

6.00am: More worrying while the boys clean the nets. Made out 69
crans. £71.
Sunday’s trip made £80.
11.30am: Off to sea.
2.30pm: A good dinner. Passed a Scot’s boat hauling a nice shimmer.
Calico smiled today. 2h. 15m. ESE from South Cross Sand Buoy.
Shot at 3.30pm. Wind WSW and fine.
7.00pm: Go to work a good look on.
9.30pm: Easy ahead. Nets lay awkward. Can just see the Knowl
Light Vessel below us.
12.45am: Bound in.
4.30am: In harbour and the editor goes home for an hour.

29th October:

Fine. Have been offered £1 per cran. Make out it is 92¼d for £99. 6s.
11.30am: Off to sea. Bottle of whisky from the office.
3.00pm: Better to have left it there. Larner in a trance; the result of
too many drams. Came off same course and distance.
3.30pm: Shot nets. A poor berth. Kept some nets in. The editor is
troubled with a scale in his eye; where is the whisky bottle?

30th October:

Fine. Wind SE by S.
2.00am: Work. A poor shimmer. Must haul to keep clear of some
nets. Have just slacked away.
6.00am: Work.
10.45am: Hauled 60 crans. Good luck. Bound in. Spoke to Piscator
in harbour.
2.00pm: Made out 63¾ crans at 17 shillings per cran. The editor went
to Wiltshire’s office to make a statement concerning the Superb.
Moored at Gorleston for the night. All serene. Calico full of joy.

Weekly report
23rd to 29th


31st October:

Fine. Dick a few minutes astern.

8.30am: Off to sea.
10am: Steam through a number of empty crates floating about.
12.15pm: Shooting. Doodles was very tired today. Soup for dinner.
3.00pm: Thick wind from NW against the law. Go to the other end.
7.00pm: At work. Nets have set about; bowls and pellets all round us.
A nice shimmer in some nets. We should have got a nice shot if we
had a clear berth. Lonzo tripped over a scale on the forecastle deck,
fortunately without injury to himself.
1.15am: a calm.

1st November:

This has been a night of worry and grief. Large quantities of waste has
been burned for flares. Skipper lost cabin poker overboard.
5.00am: Just hauled. The editor very blue. Majority of the boats are
troubled with their nets. 8¼ hours to Corton Light Vessel. Very thick.
8.30am: Steaming easily.
9.30am: In harbour. Salted the herrings on the market.
1.40pm: Left the harbour. Fox was very sparing over the whisky in
the office.
5.14pm: Shot the nets. Very fine light air from the ENE. Primrose
shot close to us.
1.00am: Hauled in a few nets.

2nd November:

Fine and hazy. Wind E by S.

6.00am: Work. Herring swimming. Scot’s boats shooting thick. Fish
do not spin up.
11.30am: Bound into harbour. 30 crans. A calm. Three hours 10
minutes to harbour. Got into market.
Sunday’s catch made £42. Thirty-three crans of fresh: £29. 9s. 3d.
Moored at Yarmouth side for the night. A visit from Ted Jones, but he

is busy and the editor advises him to go home. The editor has not got
his old days yet. Price of salt herrings low.

3rd and 4th November:

Fine. A flat calm.

9.30am: Left harbour.
12.30pm: Start to shoot. The editor gave some advice to the Persistive
of Lowestoft. Trimming up the funnel. Lonzo assisted to scrape the
number. No galvanised paint. Boats shot very thick. A good dinner,
but no potatoes for the officers.
3.30pm: The funnel finished. Jumbo a nuisance down in the cabin. A
light air from E by S.
4.30pm: Holding her easy ahead clear of the nets. A Scot’s boat sails
into our nets. More grief.
6.00pm: 20 cran shimmer.
7.00pm: At work. Heave in nets for other people. Editor raw.
10.00pm: Have hauled ½ a flat.
0.30: Work again. The Active of Banff foul of us.
2.00am: Jumbo fell over himself.
9.00: Hauled. Very crusty sky over the east. Steam out NE and shot
10.00am: Editor very blue. Portuniatus spoke to us.
2.00pm: Wind goes north. Turns out to be a fine night. No fish when
the watch books on.

5th November:

Fine wind from the north.

6.00am: Work.
10.00am: Hauled. About 8 crans. Steaming NE. King Edward spoke
to us. Jumbo trying to fall inside the tea kettle. Trouble with the bilge
12.30pam: Start to shoot.
3.00pm: Water looks well.
4.30pm: Wind SSE.

Weekly report
30th October to
5th November


Postcard : Posted 1905


6th to 8th November:

2.00am: Work. No luck. Wind N. Against the laws we pull over our
5.30am: Wind E by N.
6.30am: On the way into harbour.
6.30pm: Boats have missed the herrings.
8.45am: Passed a Lowestoft boat with nets in a lump.
11.00am: In harbour. Calico sneering instead of rubbing his hands
today. Coal, water and stores drawn in a hurry today. Trouble coming
down the river.
12.45pm: At sea. The editor is a bit queer. Plenty of toeing and
5.20pm: Shooting.
11.30pm: Work. Smart breeze from ESE. Very cold. Herrings spin
2.00am: Easy ahead as nets have turned. Lonzo cautioned as he
aspires to the captain’s position. Nets work bad and several spoilt.
7.00am: Hauled and on the way.
10.00am: In harbour. 65½ crans. 19s. 6d. per cran. Came away
before the ebb and had some near shaves.
2.00pm: At sea. Finer than expected. Course of SE by S. 2 hours
from the South Buoy.
4.30pm: Start to shoot. Bilge ejector refused duty. A splendid night,
but very cold.
0.15: At work. A nice shimmer.

8th November:

Nice breeze. Pumps choked. 100 cran shimmer.

7.45am: Hauled.
9.40am: In the stream off Corton Light Vessel. Boards gave way
while hauling. The boys finished their breakfast on deck. Our finger
sails are all gone.
10.20am: Moored at the market. Herrings sold privately; 17 shillings
per cran. The editor smashed the engine room bulkhead to clear water
out of her. Rum, beer and whisky; all serene. Trip made £153. 183½
crans. 7.00pm: home.

9th November:

Fine. Had 30 spoilts. Doodles queer during the night. Old boat looks
scaly. Waiting for the grocery
10.30am: Smart breeze.
2.30pm: Shoot nets. Fouls the ropes. Wind ESE. Bottom boards of
the well taken up to clean out the herrings.
6.00pm: Heave in nets for some bounder that has shot close to us.
7.30pm: Easy ahead, after we have hauled a quarter hand. Swearing
by the editor.
8.15pm: Trawl foul of our screw, heave in more nets. A splendid
night. Not far enough off.

10th November:

6.30am: Work. Fine wind SSE. No luck. Empty our last bottle.
Skipper crusty. Steam SE.
9.30am: Pass boats hauling herrings.
10.20am: Shoot. Water looks well.
4.00pm: No herrings. A fine night.

11th November:

5.30am: At work. Fine. Wind has gone to SW. Easy ahead to keep
clear of some nets. Doodles’ Uncle Jimmy in the Lowestoft foul of our
gear. Hauled 20 crans.
10.15am: Keep them overdays.
11.00am: Shoot.
12.00 Noon: Drizzle of rain. Turn in rut of the way. Very dark until
the moon rose. Jumbo has gone about more than usual today.

12th November:

2.00am: Work. Smart breeze and rain. Wind SSW. Raining hard.
Herrings spin up.
5.00am: Easy ahead.
6.00am: Finer.
6.30am: On the way.

Weekly report
6th to12th


Postcard : A morning catch of herring at Yarmouth

The fishing fleet at Great Yarmouth


12th November continued:

8.00am: Wind W.
9.15am: Middle Cross Sand Light Vessel abeam.
9.30am: In harbour.
2.00pm: S. S. Rival of Peterhead split our starboard rail while trying to
get into the quay.
Leave harbour.
4.45pm: Shoot. Come to a pole end, but got clear. No herrings.

13th November:

6.00am: Work. Fine. Wind SSW. Sky glooming. No luck. Steam

out SE by S.
Boats were going in during the night from outside with good catches.
Three-quarters of an hour to boat’s hauling herrings. Job to get a
10.15am: Shoot. Billy and Lonzo look on. No fish. They said the
pallets were dipping. There was one herring. Pork for dinner today.
Very greasy.
4.20pm: Wind S by W. 20 crans when the watch looked on.

14th November:

6.00am: Work. Fine. Light air: SSW.

7.30am: Wind SSE. Wind and rain shift over. Hauled and on the
11.00am: Finer. 2 hours NW by W to Corton Light Vessel. Some
Scots’ boats bound home.
2.00pm: In harbour. 36 crans at £14 per cran. Lay in tonight.

15th November:

Fine wind E.
10.00am: At sea.
1.10pm: Shoot.
Very dark during the night.

16th November:

6.00am: Fine. Work. No luck. Wind S.

9.00am: Wind SW.
9.30am: Hauled. Steam N. Jumbo threatened the chief officer with
11.00am: Steam NE. The Ivy passed us towing the Adventure of
Lowestoft. A salvage job.
12.30 am: Out to Smith’s Knoll.
2.30pm: Shoot. No herrings.

17th November:

6.30am: Work, but no steam. Fine. Wind WNW. No luck. Hauled

and steamed in.
10.15am: Jumbo presents the editor with a shagline. Steam SW.
11.40am: Shooting.
Doodles short of fag papers.
3.30pm: Nice breeze from NW.

18th November:

7.00am: Work. Fine. No luck. Hauled.

Bound in.
10.35am: In harbour.
3.30pm: Going to shift nets. Nets out and blow down.
6.00pm: Home. All serene. Trade slow.

19th November:

Nice breeze and wind from NW.

8.30am: Doodles up the combustion chamber.
Boys busy bending nets. Tern wooden after the boards with no nails.
Calico boxing about.
Get filled up with water alright.
2.00pm: Go home. Very dirty.
Boats coming back again.

Weekly report
13th to19th


20th November:

10.00am: Fine. Wind WNW. Off to sea. Out to Newarp Light

1.45pm: Shoot. Much colder. Below the lower buoy of the Ridge; 3
to 4 miles.

21st November:

Smart breeze. Slack away until 5.00 am. Fresh of wind from NW.
6.30am: Nets settled. Plenty of swell.
8.00am: Finer. Wind N by W. 20 crans hauled and steam down easy.
Boy George parted.
2.20pm: finished salting.
4.00pm: Shot. A fine night as regards wind, but plenty of rain.

22nd November:

Fine wind SW by W. South Knoll SE by E. Nets all foul. Bilge

ejector causes the editor to pray. Gulls clear our nets.
12.30am: Hauled. Steam in and sight lower buoy. Ropes foul while
shooting. Cannot get the nets up. Engine room bilge pump a little
11.00pm: Close to Fellow’s End. Nets wound up on the warp.

23rd November:

Blowing hard and heavy sea. Wind NW.

5.00am: Shipped a sea and broke our nets. Doodles had a narrow
escape. At daylight look for them for 4 hours. Rotten weather. All
hands please when we hoved up. Our mizzen stay broke and masthead
light on fire. Lonzo performed an acrobatic feat. He moved very
lively for once.
2.00pm: In harbour. Leave the salt herrings until morning. 9 cran.
Fish at 46 shillings per cran. 12 overdays at 26 shillings. Home by
dark and glad to get there.

24th November:

Fine wind SW. Looks muggy. 20 crans of salt at 18 shillings per cran.
Get nets and rope in. Moored at Gorleston for the night. Home by
3.00 pm.

25th November:

Fine. Sparrow did not turn up.

10.30am: A rope foul of our screw, but get it clear. Ship another man
and come to sea. Out of Newarp shoot just below the lower buoy of
the Ridge. Ropes are burned through in several places. Jumbo under
suspicion. He tells us that his lamp fell down and burned them. Turns
out a fine night.
Midnight: No herrings.

26th November:

A Great Yarmouth drifter at sea © Peter Allard Collection


Weekly report
20th to 26th


6.00am: Work. Smart breeze. Wind W. No luck. Foul nets.

11.00am: Hauled. 8 crans. Steaming SSE.
11.30am: ESE. Stop to shoot.
12.20pm: The editor very raw about the mizzen. Bad language in
evidence. Ropes foul.
3.45pm: Rain. Looks dirty. Smith’s Knoll Light Vessel bears WNW
3 miles. Turns out a fine night.

27th November:

6.30am: Work. Fine. Wind W. Poor shimmer.

10.45am: Hauled and steaming SSW.
12.00 Noon: Bound east.
2.10pm: 8 crans, Salted them. Johnny Ewles is developing into a
notorious liar.

28th November:

Fine. Wind SW. Billy refused to get the editor some bloaters.
6.30am: Work. Herrings swimming. Editor a bit queer. No sleep
during the night. Nice and fine.

29th November:

7.00am: Work. Fine. Wind W by S. No luck. Nets lay awkward.

8.30am: Slight rain. Easy ahead.
9.30am: Wind from NNE. Mizzen topping lift broke while lowering
the mizzen.
10.30am: Hauled. Spoke to Mistletoe. 8 crans. Steam SW. Overhaul
6 crans.
11.00am: WSW. Doodles was injured on the left arm while hauling; a
slight complication of the funny bone.
12.30am: Start to shoot. Johnny, a good sailor, to go aloft. No
boatswain’s chair required.
1.30pm: Very fine. Calm all night.

Try YH 777. Built 1900 by Chambers and Colly of Lowestoft

Drifter identical to Homocea
© Peter Allard Collection

Unloading herring

30th November:
4.00am: Work. Fine. Light air from NE by E. Hauled about 15 crans
on the way.
8.50am: Smith’s Knoll abeam.
10.20am: Ebb tide course in SW by S.
12.00 Noon: Very thick.
1.30pm: Inside Corton Light Vessel.
2.15pm: Touch the North Bank.
2.30pm: In harbour. 14½ crans at 46 shillings and 6 pence; 5½ at 23
shillings and 6 pence; 37¼ at 19 shillings and 18.6 per cran. £71.

1st December:
Fine. Light air from the S. Still thick. Take in 2 tons of salt. No
prospect of going to sea.
2.00pm: Shear over to Gorleston and moor. Editor queer. Old
skipper crusty. The skippers had a mind for a day on their own.

2nd December:

Fine. Still thick.

9.45am: Clear up. Light air from the west.
10.00am: Off to sea.
10.20am: Leave the harbour.
2.15pm: Start to shoot. Has cleared up slightly. A very good dinner
today. Shot from Irene. Larner and Dick get the pickle tubs ready. A
splendid night. Wind SW by W. 5 warp at 7pm.

3rd December:
Very fine. Light air from WSW.
4.00am: Scot’s boat hauled 35 crans close to us.
6.30am: At work. Poor shimmer.
9.00am: BF1484 foul of us, but getting about 40 crans. Hauled 8
crans. Spoke to Irene; 12 crans. Easy ahead to the westward. Spoke
to Eight; 30 crans.
11.00am: Start to shoot.
1.00pm: Light variable. Boats have shot very close to each other.
4.15pm: Light air from WNW.

Weekly report
November to
3rd December


Drifters unloading their catch at Great Yarmouth

© Peter Jones Collection

The Fish Wharf, Great Yarmouth.

Herring Queen YH 714 ; Built 1911
© Peter Jones Collection

4th December:
Fine. Light air. W by W.
3.00am: Hove up, but no herrings. Slacked away until daylight.
6.30am: Work. No luck.
7.30am: A breeze from the NW by W. Very cold. Wind has backed
to WSW.
8.30am: Very gloomy.
9.40am: Hauled and bound in. Three hours to South Buoy.
1.30pm: In harbour. 6 crans of fresh. Heard that a Scot’s sailing boat
was ran down off the jetty. Two of the crew drowned. As we came in
we saw a tug lying by some wreckage and made remarks upon it. This
disaster occurred yesterday evening. (See appendix I).
3.00pm: Off to sea. Tugs are towing in the wrecked boat. She is on
her beam ends.
4.40pm: Start to shoot. Hazy all night.

5th December:
7.00am: Work. Fine. Wind W by N. No luck. The boys short of
10.30am: Hauled and steamed to the Ridge. Spoke to Narcissus of
Lowestoft. 4 crans.
12.50pm: Against Upper Buoy of the Ridge. NNW to the Lower
1.15pm: Stopped.
2.30pm: Shooting close to the Lower Buoy. Wind SW by W.
5.00pm: A steady breeze.

6th December:

2.30am: 5 warps when the watch hove up the nets.

6.00am: Work. Nice breeze. Wind SSW. Smith’s Knoll Light Vessel
bearing E. Herrings swimming
7.30am: Herrings fall off.
9.00am: Hauled. 9 crans. Steam in for 20 minutes towards the buoy.
2.30pm: Shoot. 1½ miles from the Lower Buoy.

Weekly report
4th to 9th


6th December continued:

3.20pm: A calm. Doodles threatens Lonzo with violence while

shooting. Lonzo and Larner take half the watch for reds.
5.00pm: Raining fast.

7th December:

4.00am: Fine Wind from ENE against the law. No herrings. Nets
have set about.
7.00am: Work. No luck.
9.00am: Hauled. Bound in.
12.00 Noon: In harbour. A few boats have had nice shots from south
part of the Knoll. 6 crans of overdays at 22 shillings per cran.
1.00pm: Very thick in harbour.
2.00pm: Off to sea.
6.00pm: Shoot. Wind NWN. No herrings during the night.

Left: Hauling in the herrings

Right: Great Yarmouth Fish Wharf : Postcard posted 1906

8th December:

6.30pm: Work. Smart breeze from the WSW.

7.30pm: Herrings open up. Easy ahead with engines.
9.00am: Hauled; 8 crans.
10.20pm: Shooting. Trouble when shooting. Cannot get the nets up.
Salted the fish.
1.30pm: Wind SW.
8.00am: Heave in some nets to keep clear. Smart breeze. No luck as
yet. Several spoilts.

9th December:

7.00am: Work. Much finer. Wind W by N. Rain. No fish.

9.00am: Wind NW. Hauled steaming S by E.
10.40: W.
12.10pm: Start to shoot lee law. Fortunatus spoke to us. A fine night.

10th December:

5.00am: Work. Nice breeze. Wind SW.

8.15am: Hauled. Fresh of wind from SSW.
8.40am: Bound in.
10.00am: Have shipped some heavy seas. Cannot get clear of water.
Ease down. Dead slow.
10.20am: Engine cranks running in water. Up stoke hole plates and
bale out. Water coming in everywhere. Main halyard block breaks
and the sail comes down. Get ejector to work. Get clear of water.
1.30pm: Clear of Caister Light Vessel.
2.30pm: In harbour. 29½ crans at 26 shillings and sixpence per cran.
Turning finer.

11th December:

7.00am: Wind has backed again and looks gloomy. The Boy’s Own
came in last night and reported 3 hands lost. (See appendix II). Make
out 9½ crans of salt at 27 shillings per cran.
11.00am: At sea. Wind NW by W.
2.00pm: Weather threatening.

The crew of Fortunatus YH 707 © Peter Allard Collection

Built in the same yard as Homocea in 1902 to the same owner; E. A. Baker

Herring drifters in Great Yarmouth Harbour © Peter Jones Collection


The herring season at Great Yarmouth © Peter Jones Collection

Sailing drifter Our Boys YH 347 : Built 1903

© Great Yarmouth Museum Service

11th December continued:

11.00pm: Hove in nets to get clear of a Fellow’s End.

3.00am: Shooting. A very dirty night.

12th December:

6.00am: Work. Wind NNW. No luck.

7.00am: Shipped a sea and broke our warps. Picked them up alright
without much trouble.
9.00am: Hauled. Weather queer. 20 crans.
9.30am: Half speed ahead NNW.
12.00 Noon: Turning fair. Spoke to Boy George. One cran.
1.30pm: About to shoot. Turned out a fine night.

13th December:

5.00am: Work. Very poor shimmer.

7.00am: Wind has backed to SW by S. Looks dirty with rain and
wind rising. Herrings swim up at the Half Bowl.
9.00am: Hauled. 12 crans. Easy ahead to windward.
1.00pm: Shooting.
3.00pm: Finer, but very hazy.

14th December:

Weather fine. Wind SW.

11.00am: Work. Nice shimmer.
5.00am: Hauled and on the way Smith Knoll’s Light Vessel NNW.
Good luck.
9.00am: Raining fast.
Close to South Cross Buoy.
10.00am: Sold. Have touched the spot at last. 103½ crans of fresh
from 44 shillings to 37 shillings per cran. 12½ crans of overdays at 31
shillings and sixpence. 2½ of salt at 28 shillings per cran. £229.
The Maggie May lost and two of her hands. (See appendix III). Night
at home. All serene.

Weekly report
10th to 17th


15th December:

Nice breeze from SSW. Sailing boats making up. A few steamers in.
No fish.
2.45pm: Spoke to Felicia and started to shoot. Turned out a nice

16th December:

5.00am: Work. Last night when we shot the light vessel bore N by W.
Not many herrings.
5.30am: Light Vessel bore NNW. Have just emptied the bottle.
Fancy of Lowestoft spoke to us. 2 baskets. Several boats have spoken
to us. No herrings.
8.00am: Very fine. Wind S by W½W. Light Vessel bearing NW by N.
8.15am: Hauled. 8 crans.
12.30pm: Shot just above the light vessels bearing N by W.
3.30pm: Wind S by E. A nice fine night.

17th December:

5.00am: Work. Wind S. No luck. Several boats spoke to us during

the night. No herrings. One boat shot from South Lemon Buoy and
had 20 herrings.
7.30pm: Hauled. One cran. Steaming easy to windward.
8.00am: Full ahead.
12.00 Noon: Going in ¾ speed. Wind freshening and swell making.
1.00pm: Raining fast. Looks dirty.
2.15pm: In harbour. 7½ crans of salt. 1¼ crans of fresh. £12. Crew
hard to get into quay when we shifted; the first time for the voyage.

18th December:

Fine. Waiting for definite instructions.9.00am: Going to make up and

a good job too. This has been a most irregular voyage as regards the
boat’s fishing. Postscript: Lonzo was severely reprimanded by his
superior officer for not turning out when he was called.

Cleaning nets at Great Yarmouth Harbour. Postcard: posted 1904

© Peter Jones Collection

The Fish Wharf at Great Yarmouth


Appendix I

On Friday 4th December 1908, The Aberdeen steamer, Perth, on her

usual weekly voyage to London, had in dense fog prevailing in the
Roads, run down the Banff lugger, Atalanta. The Perth was on her
homeward journey. The Atalanta capsized and two of her crew were
drowned. The rest of the crew were rescued by the Perth. After a
short stay the steamer made for the River Thames with the Atalanta’s
survivors on board. Later, the battered lugger was found adrift in the
Roads with the mainmast still in position and the sail set Three tugs,
The Yare, Meteor and Fastnet towed the wreckage into harbour, where
it was placed on the spending beach.

Appendix II

The Loss on the Lugger, Boys’ Own

The inquiry found that the lugger was sound and it had left Great
Yarmouth on Friday 11th December 1908. It carried one lifebelt,
which was kept on the outside of the companion way. Two life-lines
and a small boat were carried on the deck. The Boys’ Own had been
fishing for about a week. It had been fairly fine until Thursday. On
Friday 11th December, when 20 miles abreast of Lowestoft, the lugger
began to shoot her nets. A storm suddenly developed . The crew had
finished hauling the nets at about eight o’clock. The tide was in flood
and the wind was SSW blowing a gale. Members of the crew manned
the pumps, as with such a storm the lugger was always full of water.
The lugger was lying to under shortened canvas. At noon a heavy wave
swept the deck taking the small boat and three crew members
overboard. The lifebelt was thrown, but as it was thick with rain and
the sea was heavy, the three men disappeared. The skipper brought the
boat about immediately and attempted to reach the men, but to no
avail. The skipper saw two men clinging onto the small boat, but then
lost sight of the boat. He tried three times to get to the boat, but failed
to get closer than five or six yards. All the three men then disappeared
from sight. All the three men lost were wearing sea boots and oilies.
After abandoning all hope the Boys’ Own hove to until the weather
moderated and then progressed to Great Yarmouth.

The owner of the Boy’s Own, H. J. Sayers, said that the boat was in the
Provident Fund and that everything possible would be done to alleviate
the blow. He continued that the calling of a fisherman was a hard one
and that this was, unfortunately, one of the risks that had to be taken.
The disaster was one that called for the utmost pity and sympathy.

Those crew members who drowned were:

Richard Albert Parker, aged 18 years, a yonker, who was making his
first voyage: the skipper’s son.

Herbert Buxton, aged 37 years, a yonker, who had been at sea for eight

John Jackman, a hawseman, who had been at sea for eight years. He
was supporting a widowed mother.

(The Boy's Own. This vessel, YH 572, was built at Lowestoft in 1893
and sold by Sayer's of Great Yarmouth in February 1909 for £100. It
was eventually sold on to Norway in 1910).

Appendix III

The Loss of the Maggie May

The Maggie May struck Holm Sand on the afternoon of Sunday 12th
December 1908. She immediately filled with water and became a total
wreck. Two crew members were drowned. There was fog, but whistle
blowing and flares brought no help. The small boat on the Maggie
May’s deck had been swamped away by the sea and the crew hung
onto the rigging. Two crew members disappeared during the night.
The survivors, eight in all, were rescued in an exhausted state after
eleven hours of exposure and danger, by a passing brigantine, the
Aurora, which took them into Lowestoft.

At the inquiry, the skipper stated: that the Maggie May left the fishing
grounds, 20 miles east of Lowestoft, under all steam and sail on the
afternoon of 12th December. All went well until three o’clock in the
afternoon, when it became foggy. The boat was making about three
miles an hour. The skipper went forward and could see the South
Holm Buoy about 100 yards away to the west. He turned the vessel
about and set a course of NE by E and asked the crew to listen for the
Corton Lightship’s foghorn. However, they could not hear it. He held
his course for an hour and still the crew had not heard the foghorn. He
then reduced speed to half a knot an hour and put the boat’s head
round to the south-east. He told the crew to prepare the anchors, as he
could not see further than a length ahead. A few minutes passed and
at four o’clock he heard the Corton Lightship’s foghorn and judged
that it was about two miles away bearing WNW. He increased speed
to three miles an hour and after half-an-hour the boat grounded.
Immediately a big sea from the stern swamped the boat and it filled
with water. They blew the ship’s whistle for three-quarters of an hour.
At six o’clock the fog lifted a little and they were able to see the lights
of Lowestoft and the Corton Lightship. They shouted and made a
flare, which lasted for eight minutes. Then the fog came in again, but
cleared later. Another flare was made which burned for three-quarters
of an hour. However, no help came and their paraffin was exhausted.
They could not blow the whistle as the water had extinguished the
engine’s fire.
Their small boat was launched at five-thirty in the evening, but was
immediately swamped with water. The crew tried to bale her out, but a

heavy sea broke her mooring rope and it was carried away. The crew
lashed themselves to the rigging. The Aurora, which had been at
anchor, spotted the Maggie May and sent a small boat to rescue the
crew. At this point it was found that two crew members were missing.

Those crew members who drowned were:

William Wright, aged 65 years from Ormesby, married with eleven


Arthur Harbord, a lad aged 16 years from Hemsby, who had been at
sea for only a few months.

Great Yarmouth Fish Wharf

A later Homocea, built 1919 and owned by E. A. Baker

© Great Yarmouth Museum Service

Drifter at sea

Hauling in the nets


Appendix IV

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